The number of retirements at Northern Illinois University almost have doubled in the past four years. In calendar year 2009, 110 employees retired. In 2012, 204 employees are expected to retire, according to information received by SURS through a Freedom of Information Act request.That's the local news. At the state flagship, where they had a clout list but no rowing team, there's something similar in progress.
“It’s an unprecedented turnover,” said Steven Cunningham, vice president of Administration and Human Resources at NIU. “It’s about three times what it normally would be. It’s mostly caused by uncertainty caused by pension reform.”
That’s one factor that has led to a growing number of retirees, said Deborah Haliczer, director of employment relations with NIU’s Human Resources Department, which encompasses staff demographics.
A large percentage of NIU’s employees were hired in the 1970s and 1980s during a large period of growth, which means many of them are reaching retirement age.
"Folks are very concerned with what's happening in Springfield with pensions," said Jack Dempsey, executive director of UI Facilities and Services. "Whether it's true or not, people believe if they retire they secure their benefits. Folks who are on the fence, they're making the choice to go now."Whether the same dynamic is at work elsewhere remains to be seen. A professor at Georgia Southern sent a letter to his colleagues that Inside Higher Ed suggests might be a lament against the rise of the all-administrative university.
Figures provided by the State Universities Retirement System as of June 12 show the number of people planning to retire before July 2 at the UI's Urbana campus doubled this calendar year over the same period in 2011, from 223 to 491. The university's overall numbers showed a similar trend, with 1,008 employees planning to retire before July 2 this year compared with 507 during the first six months of 2011.
"The numbers are definitely up across our employee categories," said Barbara Wilson, UI vice provost for academic affairs at the Urbana campus.
As people have forwarded it to colleagues elsewhere, frequently using the phrase "speaking truth to power," many are saying that [Georgia Southern literature and philosophy professor David] Dudley has captured many of the things that are wrong in higher education today, especially at the non-flagship, non-elite public institutions that most students attend.The incentives may vary among universities.
Tenure is a property right and Stanford is trying to buy back that right from the age 70+ faculty.Note, in the exalted climate of the fifty institutions that claim to be the international top ten, we're not talking about more downsizing from headquarters, intrusions by the Assessment Weenies, and parking permits advertising football.
Now there is a hidden information issue here. Each tenured faculty member has private information about what is the lowest payment he/she would need in order to induce him to retire early. Somebody who is sick or sick of his colleagues would need a smaller incentive then a guy who thinks that he is on the verge of coming up with his "General Theory of Economics" or doesn't like to hang out with his spouse.